Margarita Mama's and Banana Joe's, which closed at Tampa's Channelside in 2009, are opening in 10,500 square feet in the historic Kress building by late summer.
"The work has begun," said Samuel Boutros, who bought the 85-year-old building last year. Eight months ago, the owner of Bowled made plans to open a restaurant and that deal fell through. Boutros believes these two businesses will appeal to young professionals as well as older adults.
There will be acoustic guitar music daily along with sidewalk dining, said Michael Dennis, spokesman for Banana Joe's and Margarita Mama's.
Banana Joe's made national and international headlines in 2005 when two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders engaged in a sexual act in one of the bar's bathroom stalls in Tampa. One punched a bystander who complained about their behavior; both ended up in jail.
"I know there was some stuff that happened in Tampa. That's not going to be the case here. (The owner) is aiming for a more upscale crowd this time around," Boutros said.
Margarita Mama's, a Mexican restaurant, will occupy 8,000 square feet on the building's first floor that now houses a rug store. Banana Joe's will operate in 2,500 square feet in the basement.